The Chelyabinsk meteor seen from space

By Tom Yulsman | February 16, 2013 10:09 pm

The Chinese FY-2D satellite captured an image of what appears to be an east-west vapor plume in the atmosphere, likely from the meteor that streaked over Chelyabinsk, Russia. The image was first posted by the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. I’ve cropped and enhanced it to emphasize the plume.

Since the Chelyabinsk meteorite streaked across the Russian sky, shattering windows in its wake and sending a thousand people to the hospital, I’ve been wondering how many satellites captured its passage.

On the day of the event, the Meteosat-9 weather satellite recorded a widely distributed image of the meteor streaking through the atmosphere. I’ve been looking for others, and on Saturday, the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies posted one on their blog.

I pulled the image into one of my image editing applications (Aperture), cropped it, and enhanced it to bring out the vapor plume created by the meteorite as it hurtled through the atmosphere. The image above is the result. (With apologies to the awesome folks at CIMSS if I’ve somehow sullied the original image!)

  • Emkay

    good job…

  • Vasily

    Selling pieces of meteorite from Chelyabinsk( was found near Chebarkul’s lake). All questions to



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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